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| Space on Oct 06, 2014

How often do 7 eclipses occur in 365 days?

It’s rare to have 7 eclipses in a calendar year. It’s less rare to have 7 eclipses in 365 days. There are 7 eclipses in 365 days 29 times in the 21st century!

View larger A total solar eclipse can happen only at new moon, when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth.  Why aren't there eclipses at every full and new moon?

A solar eclipse happens at new moon, when the moon passes between the sun and Earth.

View larger A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth, sun and moon align in space, with Earth in the middle. Why aren't there eclipses at every full and new moon?

A lunar eclipse happens at full moon when Earth is between the sun and moon. Why aren’t there eclipses at every full and new moon?

There are at least four eclipses every year – two solar and two lunar. Four is a common number of eclipses in a year; for example, the year 2014 has four eclipses. But four is also the minimum number. Depending on the year, there can be four eclipses, five eclipses, six eclipses or a maximum of seven eclipses in a single year. In a previous article, we found that it’s extremely rare to have seven eclipses in a calendar year. The last time was 1982 and the next time will be 2038. On the other hand, it’s much less rare to have seven eclipses in a period of 365 days. Follow the links below to learn more:

Four eclipses in the year 2014

It’s rare to have seven eclipses in a calendar year

It’s not so rare to have seven eclipses in 365 days

Fortnight, lunar month and lunar year

How often do three eclipses happen in one lunar month?

Seven eclipses in one lunar year

Image of varying stages of an annular eclipse Wikipedia

Image of varying stages of an annular solar eclipse Wikipedia

Four eclipses in the year 2014

April 15: total lunar eclipse
April 29: annular solar eclipse
October 7-8: total lunar eclipse
October 23: partial solar eclipse

It’s rare to have seven eclipses in a calendar year. It’s extremely rare for one calendar year to contain seven eclipses. The last time it happened was 1982. Looking ahead, we will have seven eclipses in a calendar year only twice in the 21st century (2001-2100), during the years 2038 and 2094. There are 3 solar/4 lunar eclipses in the year 2038, and 4 solar/3 lunar in the year 2094.

A calendar year of seven eclipses can also feature 5 solar/2 lunar eclipses, but this last happened in the year 1935 and won’t happen again until the year 2206.

Or you could have 2 solar/5 lunar eclipses in one calendar year, but this last happened in the year 1879 and won’t happen again until the year 2132.

Suffice it to say a calendar year with seven eclipses is indeed rare.

Read more: How many solar and lunar eclipses in one calendar year?

Total lunar eclipse mosaic by eclipse master Fred Espenak.   Visit his page for the April 14-14 eclipse.

Total lunar eclipse mosaic by eclipse master Fred Espenak. Visit his page for the April 14-14 eclipse.

It’s not so rare to have seven eclipses in 365 days. Some might argue that the calendar year is an artificial constraint … and they would be right. What if we shift our focus to a period of 365 days? How often do seven eclipses happen within one-year’s time (365 days)?

Looking at it this way, we find many occurrences of seven eclipses in a period of 365 days. Seven eclipses last occurred in one year’s time from November 13, 2012 to November 3, 2013. It’ll happen next from January 31, 2018 to January 21, 2019.

We list the seven eclipses that take place in a period of one year for the years 2012-13 and 2018-19:

2012-13 (Seven eclipses: 3 solar/4 lunar) 2018-19 (Seven eclipses: 4 solar/3 lunar)
2012 Nov 13 solar eclipse 2018 Jan 31 lunar eclipse
2012 Nov 28 lunar eclipse 2018 Feb 15 solar eclipse
2013 Apr 25 lunar eclipse 2018 Jul 13 solar eclipse
2013 May 10 solar eclipse 2018 Jul 27 lunar eclipse
2013 May 25 lunar eclipse 2018 Aug 11 solar eclipse
2013 Oct 18 lunar eclipse 2019 Jan 06 solar eclipse
2013 Nov 03 solar eclipse 2019 Jan 21 lunar eclipse
GregDiesel Landscape Photography  captured this beautiful shot of the November 3, 2013 eclipse at sunrise in North Carolina.  Thank you, GregDiesel!  Visit GregDiesel's Online Gallery here.

GregDiesel Landscape Photography captured this beautiful shot of the November 3, 2013 solar eclipse at sunrise in North Carolina. Thank you, GregDiesel! Visit GregDiesel’s Online Gallery here.

Fortnight, lunar month and lunar year. Note that a lunar eclipse and solar eclipse always take place within one fortnight (approximate two-week period) of one another.

Any year period containing seven eclipses must also have three eclipses within the framework of one lunar month – the time period between successive new moons or full moons.

In other words: whenever three eclipses happen in one lunar month, it’s inevitable that seven eclipses should occur in one lunar year of 12 lunar months (a period of about 354 days).

How often do three eclipses happen in one lunar month? Any time a lunar month has three eclipses, we automatically know that seven eclipses happen within one-year’s time. We investigate how often this happens by referring to a longer natural unit of time known as the Metonic cycle – a period of precisely 235 lunar months (approximately 19 calendar years).

In our chosen 235-lunar-month (19-year) stretch of time, we start with the solar eclipse of November 13, 2012, and end with the solar eclipse of November 14, 2031. We find that five lunar months contain three eclipses within this particular Metonic cycle (from the new moon of November 13, 2012, to the new moon of November 14, 2031).

Five 3-eclipse lunar months in between Nov 13, 2012 and Nov 14, 2031:

1) 2013: Apr 25 full moon – May 10 new moon – May 25 full moon

2) 2018: Jul 13 new moon – Jul 27 full moon – Aug 11 new moon

3) 2020: Jun 5 full moon – Jun 21 new moon – Jul 5 full moon

4) 2029: Jun 12 new moon – Jun 26 full moon – Jul 11 new moon

5) 2031: May 7 full moon – May 21 new moon – Jun 5 full moon

Read more about the phenomenon of three eclipses in one month

Eclipse seasons come every 173.3 days

Although the Moon's orbit around Earth is inclined at 5o to Earth's orbit around the Sun, the Moon crosses the Earth's orbital plane twice a month at points called nodes. Every 173.3 days, the line of nodes points at the Sun, and it's the middle of the approximate five-week eclipse season (highlighted in gray). During any eclipse season, there are always one solar eclipse and one lunar eclipse, each of which occurs within one fortnight of the other. If the first eclipse arrives early enough in the eclipse season, three eclipses then take place within one lunar month, and it's inevitable that seven eclipses occur in one year's time.

Although the moon’s orbit around Earth is inclined at 5o to Earth’s orbit around the sun, the moon crosses the Earth’s orbital plane twice a month at points called nodes. Every 173.3 days, the line of nodes points at the sun, and it’s the middle of the approximate five-week eclipse season (highlighted in gray). During any eclipse season, there are always one solar eclipse and one lunar eclipse, each of which occurs within one fortnight of the other. If the first eclipse arrives early enough in the eclipse season, three eclipses then take place within one lunar month, and it’s inevitable that seven eclipses occur in one year’s time.

Seven eclipses in one lunar year. Because three eclipses happen within one lunar month, seven eclipses also have to fall in one lunar year of 12 lunar months, a period of about 354 days.

We list the dates for the first and final eclipses of the five 7-eclipse lunar years during the 19-year (235-lunar-month) period from November 13, 2012, to November 14, 2031:

1) Nov 13, 2012 (solar eclipse) to Nov 03, 2013 (solar eclipse)

2) Jan 31, 2018 (lunar eclipse) to Jan 21, 2019 (lunar eclipse)

3) Dec 26, 2019 (solar eclipse) to Dec 14, 2020 (solar eclipse)

4) Dec 31, 2028 (lunar eclipse) to Dec 20, 2029 (lunar eclipse)

5) Nov 25, 2030 (solar eclipse) to Nov 14, 2031 (solar eclipse)

In short, it’s not all that rare to have three eclipses in one lunar month, or seven eclipses in one-year’s time (365 days).

Bottom line: It’s extremely rare to have seven eclipses in a calendar year. The last time was 1982 and the next time will be 2038. On the other hand, it’s much less rare to have seven eclipses in a period of 365 days. If I’ve counted everything up correctly, seven eclipses occur in the period of 365 days a total of 29 times in the 21st century!

Catalog of solar eclipses: 2001-2100

Catalog of lunar eclipses: 2001-2100